One year of “zero waste”

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Em Português mais abaixo.

It’s been more than a year that I read that book, made myself a few muslin cotton bags and made a  commitment to reduce our waste and as back then I still struggle to use the term Zero Waste for many, many reasons, but for lack of a better shorter term, and because nowadays is so easily recognizable, I still use it, especially in tags on instagram and will keep using it to categorize this kind of posts, however, there are a few things I wanted to address here first.

Even most of the more devotees to this lifestyle recognizes that is very difficult for an individual in our modern society not to create waste, but on a more personal level, in reality I cannot, at this stage of my/our life aim for a total zero waste lifestyle. Each person/couple/family have personal circumstances that must be respected, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change our habits, we must! However small steps and a more positive way of looking at what we can achieve is a better attitude and helps us to make long lasting changes that we can stick with more easily.

There was a time, earlier on, where I did try to shop zero waste and after awhile I came to the conclusion that I simply couldn’t keep up! I was stressing over it too much and more importantly,  the simple truth is I just can’t afford it. That doesn’t mean its business as usual; what I’m trying to say is: in a more honest way, my aim is to reduce our waste, which we’ve actually managed to do! Instead of fretting about the amount of recycling and rubbish we were creating I decided to look at the amount we’ve reduced, which has been significant, and as I said above, this shift of perspective has been better for my mental health, therefore, I believe, easier to keep those changes and keep working to reduce it even further. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I’m ready to share in following posts, some of the steps we’ve taken to reduce waste for our family of five with a limited budget.

 

Já lá vai um ano desde que eu li aquele livro, fiz uns saquinhos de pano e decidi reduzir o nosso lixo, e tal como antes, continuo a não me sentir confortavel com o termo “zero waste” ou desperdicio zero, por várias razões. Mas por falta de um termo melhor e de fácil identificação continuo a usá-lo, principalmente no instagram e continuarei a usar para categorizar este tipo de postes, no entanto há umas quantas coisas que eu gostava de falar primeiro.

Até mesmo as pessoas mais devotadas a este estilo de vida reconhecem que é muito dificil para um individuo na nossa sociedade moderna não criar nenhum desperdicio, mas num sentido mais pessoal, nesta altura da minha/nossa vida, simplesmente não me é possivel tentar atingir um estilo de vida totalmente de desperdicio zero. Cada pessoa/casal/familia tem circunstâncias pessoais que têm de ser respeitadas, mas isso não quer dizer que não podemos mudar os nossos habitos, nós temos mesmo que mudar! No entanto passos pequenos e uma atitude mais positiva em relação ao que nós podemos conseguir ajuda-nos a fazer mudanças que poderemos manter mais facimente a longo prazo.

No inicio eu ainda tentei fazer compras sem desperdicio, mas passado pouco tempo cheguei à conclusão que simplesmente eu não conseguiria manter esse estilo de vida! Eu stressava muito e o mais importante, e a simples verdade é que simplesmente eu o dinheiro não chegava. Mas isso não quer dizer que voltou tudo como era antes; o que eu quero dizer, numa maneira mais honesta, o que eu estou a tentar fazer é reduzir o nosso desperdicio, o que nós já conseguimos fazer! Em vez de me preocupar com a quantidade de reciclagem e lixo que nós produzimos em casa eu decidi observar é o que nós já conseguimos reduzir, o que é significante, e ta como disse acima, esta mudança de perspectiva tem sido muito melhor para a minha saúde mental e por isso mesmo eu acredito que manteremos mais facilmente essas mudanças e nos permitirá continuar a trabalhar para reduzir ainda mais. Agora que já falei sobre estas questões, estou pronto par apartilhar em futuros postes, os passos que temos dádo para reduzir o desperdicio de uma familia de cinco pessoas com um orçamento limitado.

 

 

trees and stones

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What a breath of fresh air, literally, it is to get out of the city and head to the mountain! We left, with a bag packed with snacks and not much of a plan, only to head to the woods. We all miss it, not just me.

Ever since we moved to Lisbon, I want to move out, and I think, we all do. In fact the only reason we decided to rent this flat is my lack of driving license, which is frustrating me a lot! I did try, but failed my test and with a few unfortunate events, couldn’t set the exam again, and now I must start all over again in Portugal…

I have been wanting to write about Lisbon, but it’s hard to talk about it “publicly”, mainly because it hasn’t been a very positive experience. It’s not been really that bad, but  when your heart is not in it and what you want is a another kind of life, it just gets a bit difficult, especially as our days would look a bit different if only I had passed that bloody driving test!

The first month was very good, we had friends and family visiting and we had just moved; then Paul started work, and things went bad and some days I feel quite sad for being “stuck” in the city, with not even a garden to get my hands dirty… other days we really enjoy! Making new friends, finding the wilder spaces in a not so wild city, making use of the culture available and getting out as much as possible. There has been plenty of hot beach days too, which is very good indeed!

Back to today, we picked wild carrot (I hope Cat was with us so that she could tell us for sure), as it’s for dyeing I’m not terribly bothered about it’s identification, but it would be nice to know! I’ve been seeing this plant a lot when we go out of the city and was glad to gather some today. Also spotted the first Saint Jonh’s wort since leaving Lousã. The picture is not properly focused, but the battery of my camera died after this one taking this photo, but I wanted to document it anyway. Unfortunately we didn’t gather any, not even for my daughter’s “bouquet”  as there was only one plant, I will keep my eyes peeled for more.

 

Orange trees

spring (3)Before I took this picture, I was made to stop by the smell of springtime of my childhood! I grew up in the Algarve, in a house surrounded by orange trees. As you probably can imagine the smell of a flowering orange tree is quite intense, even if it’s only a few trees in the center of a big city! I could smelled them before I realized what kind of tree I was passing by.

How does one explains the smell of a flowering orange tree, or the feeling of a warm summer night looking at the stars? On these moments I feel the wonder, that after so many years of planning, we’re really living here! Sometimes, well, maybe most of the time, the daily routine takes over and I just go along with it… cooking, doing the laundry, bed times, etc, in many ways these are the same as they were: we still need nourishing food, sleep and washed clothes to wear. But then on these apparently, small moments, it downs on me that we made a dream come true, well, at least part of it, the other part will soon come!

Spring

spring (1)spring (12)spring (14)spring (16)spring (18)spring (23)spring (24)spring (32)spring (37)spring (46)spring (48)spring (50)spring (52)This area of Portugal is dominated by non-native trees, acacia and eucalyptus mainly, which do not loose their leaves in winter, one must look closely to see oaks, sweet chestnuts and other deciduous trees doted here and there, but in general, winter is a green season. On lower ground too, because of the mild temperatures some plants survive all winter therefore the ground is never bare.

I remember this time of the year in Scotland, so much promise on the first buds of the trees, the weeds and bulbs braving the temperatures and the ground starting to turn from brown to green. The excitement of the first (and second and third!) helpings of wild garlic and soon after nettles.

Nevertheless, Spring in Portugal still feels like the Earth is awaking, which it kind of surprised me, eleven years without experiencing this is a long time and back then I didn’t have as much awareness as I do now. Since the Earth around me never lost its greenery, I didn’t expect this feeling, but for a few weeks now everything is so much alive! Whereas in Scotland we get a burst of green, here we get a burst of color.The acacias turned to flower leaving some parts of the landscape in a greenish/yellowish colo, the fields planted with mainly cabbage and turnip grow their flowers, turning the fields and kitchen gardens into stripes of white and yellow. As we walk or drive throw these roads, my eyes are caught by the sight of the flowering fruit trees, in full bloom of white and pink. The animal kingdom too, contributes to this awakening, especially the birds, bugs and butterflies.

a gathered holiday tree

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On Sunday we went for a walk to gather materials for our Christmas tree. Last year we made it like this and the children wanted to do the same this year, but there are no holes in the house from which to hang it like that. While looking at a craft book we came across the idea of a pyramid made with sticks for a table center piece, and we all agreed if we made it bigger it would make a great holiday tree.To me It’s a beautiful tradition we are creating, the making of our tree, and it warms my heart to know that, they too, prefer to make one than to buy.

The tree itself is made with fallen sticks, mainly of acacia (there are loads of acacias here, it’s nearly or maybe worse than eucalyptus), and then we picked a few other bits to wind around the main sticks. It has ivy, maple, pine, cypress, more acacia and other bits that I can’t identify. I really like that is made from a variety of plants around us rather than just one specie.

We also made a new advent calendar. I usually come up with the ideas myself, but this year we all contributed to it. We mixed the papers (except special days like Solstice or Christmas eve), and then hang them up, that way no one knows exactly what the activity for the day is and is a surprise for us all.

these days

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It’s nearly three months since we left Scotland. We had a rough plan for the following months, but things aren’t going accordingly to plan, of course they aren’t!

So much has happen in this time that it has been hard to sit down, wrap my head around it all and write about it. We planned to do much more travel around Portugal, we planned to live in a 5 mt tent (with a wood-stove) for a few months, build an outdoor kitchen and a compost toilet, meanwhile we would research and even maybe start making a living with a food trailer. Instead, we’re living in a wee rented house, we’ve bought a car and have a full time job.Ah!

To write it like that makes it all sound so simple… But it doesn’t describe the help we’ve had from new friends and strangers, the head banging against Portuguese bureaucracy, the despair of being stolen money and our only working bank card and to have a broken car all in the same weekend, plus other things that I won’t bore you with… So even if things aren’t going the way we planned, life is good. The way I see it, is that this situation is a stepping stone, ever so close to that vision we have to the way we want to live. Is a slow crossing to get there, but mostly I’m ok with that.

This time spent so close as a family, has also been very good to learn a lot about ourselves, what we value as a whole and as individuals, and I believe these lessons will inform the kind of life we’ll create in the next few months and live in the next few years.

P.S.: For our friends and family in Scotland, YOU haven’t been forgotten! I think of you everyday and we often talk about all the loved ones we miss so very much!

P.S.S.: I feel that some of you might want to know if I’m still complaining about the cold.. and the short answer is sometimes! I know… But nights here can be very cold, especially in this old wee house. During the day is warmer outside, as you might guess, is where we spend most of the day.

shop update

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The post I have waited so long to do is finally here! After years of planning, years of trying to save and even more of actually saving, we are now ready to embark on a new adventure. I have wrote a little about it before. We’re chasing a wish, a dream and see what we can make of it and what opportunities come our way. Just now, we’re too much in the middle of it all to write more and there are too many things to organize and pack…

If you would like to help us and in return receive beautiful and useful Earth friendly things, go to my shop (I’ll keep updating it in the next few days, so please check often), and for one week only enter the code LighterPacking to receive a 10% discounted. This is valid until September 15th, after that the shop will close for a few weeks or months and I’m sorry to say, postage will be more expensive to the UK…